We begin this week with 2 comments. One, the longer one, from Jeff Rosenberg of Yale Brokerage (call him for most of your insurance needs), a dedicated Oisvorfer follower who comments weekly. The other, as you will read below, from a new reader over in London as the weekly parsha reviews continue to spread all over the world. Welcome aboard Martin.
Thoroughly enjoyed your style of communication. I signed up for future notifications and can’t wait to read previous parshas.
Martin O’Connor, Golders Green, N.W. London
In response to last week’s review of the events found in parshas Chukas which took place mostly in year 40, Jeff wrote:
I agree. I’m sure there were many scandals during the 38 years, and that it would make a best seller. You have mentioned many times in the past about shtekin abuse. Did this happen to you in yeshiva? I went through that, so I can relate. I used to obsess over it, but I believe I’m mostly past it. If you do believe in the rebbono shel olam and justice, retribution, vengeance etc, there is indeed a special place in hell for those mamzeirim.
Nu, what are the odds that Miriam and Sora both died @ 127?
The yiddin had to rely on open miracles in the desert. They saw all the miracles of G-d and yet they sinned, but we cannot judge. We would probably do the same although the logic escapes us. Why? Because G-d wired us that way. It just all messed up.
If during the burial, Moshe carried her head and Aharon carried her feet, who held up the middle? Was there a husband here? He had to put up with her all those years and with the loshan horah scandal. No kudos to him? Mr. Kolaiv ben Yefunah was remembered for being one of the two good spies, not for being Miriam’s husband. In the end, he was rewarded by having to feel the pain of his son murdered. One strike and you are out. Great.
He is forever hopeful of our return/repentance? Not with all the roadblocks and pre-destined need to mess up that were created with. Is this a never ending testing period for our entire lives?
Is there really an afterlife, even though there is nothing clearly mentioned in the torah she’biksav? Or do we morph back into HaShem’s being after we croak?
Have you heard back from your parents since they went to the other side? Is there any evidence?
What the pshat?
Jeffrey Rosenberg, Five Towns, Lawrence, NY
Raboyseyee and Ladies:
Bolok: Bad Guy Rewarded for Good Deed
Does the RBSO reward bad guys? Was Bolok, the central character in this week’s parsha which is named for him, a bad guy? Les mann di’polig (no one would argue) that the answer is a resounding yes! Did the RBSO instantly dispose of him as He does with others whom He does not like, or are stam troublemakers? He did not! Some might argue farkert (just the opposite); let’s taka see how he was dealt with.
Nu, a few weeks back, on the second day of Shovuis (yes, it’s a two day holiday here in golus), we read the Book or Rus. She, next to Queen Esther of Migillah fame, is efsher the most beloved woman in Jewish history. And who was Rus? Where did she come from? Believe it or not, prior to her conversion and one night marriage and stand with her much older Jewish husband Boaz, who seemingly came and went the same night, if you chap (he died), she was a shiksa. And not just any shiksa, but a Moabite Princess. And not just any princess, but seemingly a direct descendant of Bolok, king of Moiov, the very same Bolok whose intricate plot to kill the Yiddin is very vividly and colorfully described in this week’s parsha. Is this how the RBSO deals with bad guys? Sinners? Is that good news for most of us? Did Bolok have excellent legal representation? Was he an informant? Did he flip and cooperate? What’s pshat?
Welcome to Parshas Bolok, one of the most fascinating in the gantze (entire) Toirah kula (entire Toirah). Why so, you ask? Because the story we’ll hear this coming Shabbis, unlike many others throughout the heylige Toirah, is told with very graphic detail, nothing left out. Whereas most other Toirah stories have gaping holes, so many at times that even after a complete reading, we are left to rely, as we have discussed in the past, on oral traditions, and what could be better if you chap, Bolok is, interestingly enough, punkt (specifically) farkert. This particular parsha describes in very colorful detail every move and counter move attempted during the conspiracy by its central characters to curse the Yiddin. And for that reason alone Parshas Bolok is perhaps the most fully developed story and storyline in the gantze Toirah kula. It’s screenplay ready. There’s really not much left to the imagination until we get to the last nine pisukim of the parsha where all hell breaks loose. Speaking of loose, a man from Shevet Shimoin to be identified by name in next week’s parsha, has an open and unusual public act of lewdness and salacious entanglement with a hot shiksa named Kosbi; their story continues into next week’s parsha of Pinchas. Ober chap nisht; that’s what he did, and his life wasn’t spared, though he was speared, if you get the point- he did. Oh, and also toward the very end, a good number of Yiddin did a very bad; seemingly, while begin seduced by young shiksas, they got quite naughty and also did some dastardly acts of avoido zoro (idolatry). As you can only imagine, the heylige Gemora and so many others fill in the blanks, as did they, if you chap. More on that below.
And before we go tiffer (deeper) into the parsha, let’s do a quick one paragraph overview, here we go. King Balak of Moiov retains Bilam a famed non-Jewish prophet and sorcerer to curse the Yiddin. In the end, because only the RBSO is really in charge, blessings instead of curses will come out of his mouth including nevuah (prophecies) concerning the ultimate redemption. Following his unsuccessful attempts to curse the Yiddin he concocts one last plan; this one will work. Moabite women, some say they were Midianites, entice some (many thousands) of Yiddin into sin, by using one of the oldest tricks in the book: sexual favors. While being seduced and in compromised positions, the shiksas will also entice their customers into the worship of the Baal Peor deity. What that is and how it works, we’ll get to later; you won’t want to miss this amazing story. The RBSO commands Moishe to execute the guilty. Yet another plague breaks out, many more will die. Zimri, a leader amongst the Yiddin is consorting, in public mamish, with a hot shiksa princess; seemingly they were not observing the laws of tznius. Pinchas, Aharoin’s eynikel (grandson), kills them both, and the plague is halted. Shoin, it’s one parsha later and another 24,000 dead Yiddin. Here then a few new thoughts for 2018.
Efsher you’re also klerring the following. If Noiach got a Parsha, how is it that Moishe and many others didn’t? Didn’t he have a magic shtekin and didn’t he use it to perform nissim mamish? Wasn’t he our fearless leader and the only person that the RBSO spoke to mouth to mouth? And what about the heylige Ovois (forefathers)? Don’t we mention them daily in our prayers? And nebech the heylige emohois (foremothers), weren’t they deserving, at least mama Rochel? Didn’t Yitzchok who was mamish ready to sacrifice his life for the RBSO deserve epes a parsha? What about Yaakov Oveenu? Didn’t he sacrifice his entire life mamish by being married to four women? How about Yoisef? Wasn’t he everyone’s hero and good guy? He’s the main character in three parshas; shouldn’t he have at least one named after himself? Nu, some taka say that parshas Chaya Soro is one of only six named after a person, and that the women are therefore well represented, ober others suggest that since the parsha only covers her posthumous life, that it does not count. What’s taka pshat? Does it pas (feel or look right) for a Toirah parsha to be named after a Koirach and a Bolok when mamish our forefathers couldn’t get a single parsha? Nu, Red Buttons, were he alive, would have had an entire routine over this kasha. Could this happen today? The medroshim are avada replete with various suggestions on how parsha names were selected ober we must still be left a shtikel perplexed over the fact that Bolok, a bavusta (well known) Jew hater got his own.
Though it’s avada also bavust (well known and accepted) that when it comes to Shuls and Yeshivas, everything is for sale, after all, they do always need cash, would they allow a goy to dedicate a parsha or an entire Toirah? Nu, don’t answer that! Can you only imagine the tumult were a well known goy, even a good goy, one who loves Yiddin, efsher a giveer mamish (a multimillionaire) to send in a pledge and wanted to dedicate a sefer Toirah or even a Parsha. Though it’s also bavust that most yeshivas and other institutions would sell their soul for a few dollars and especially for more than a few, would they allow the goy’s name to show up on the mantel (Toirah cover), in the dedication, or in the procession as they march the newly minted Toirah into a shul? Ver veyst?
Why did these six individuals deserve to have Toirah Parshas named after them? As stated above, even our heylige Ovois (forefathers), all three of them failed to chap a parsha name, what’s taka pshat here? Nu, the Oisvorfer did some research and here’s what he has to report. Not much! Seemingly, in some cases the person named plays a key role in the parsha, in other weeks the person is actually mentioned after some great event in their life. Lemoshol (for instance), Chayai Soro is named for her and describes her death in the first verse! Another idea might be that the people for whom parshas are named are all great people, ober how do we reconcile this answer when two are named after people who antagonized the RBSO, one being the leader of a rebellion? It’s not often in the Toirah, no matter how upset, that the RBSO causes an earthquake. Bolok and Koirach certainly weren’t “good guys” as described in their respective parshiois. Ober many seem to say that we needn’t dig nor read into the names. Parshas are named simply based on a word or two in the first possik (verse).
Some taka ask azoy: given that both Bilam and Bolok hated the Yiddin, why was it that only Bolok got his name attached to the parsha? Taka not a bad question. Ober Chazal (our sages )and other commentaries tell us a givaldige answer, a life lesson mamish. Seemingly, for all of Bolok’s wickedness, he possessed at least one good attribute –most people do- he was honest. Everyone knew where he stood with Bolok. His intentions and actions were clear-cut: he heated the Yiddin. Shoin, not the first, nor the last, nebech. He disclosed his hatred of the Yiddin to one and all. He made no attempt to conceal his hatred, seemingly such honesty, though an enemy, deserves a Parsha of his own. And pshat is that an honest enemy- one that mamish tells you he hates you- is avada and avada better than a fake friend. Bilam pretended to be a holy man and to aspire to fulfill only the RBSO’s commands ober his actions exposed his hypocritical ways. And the life lesson: nu, need this be spelled out? Everyone has fake friends who behind their backs, act as enemies mamish. Sadly, many paragraphs can be written on this life lesson, ober let’s go Veyter. The Toirah demonstrates that… better an honest enemy (Bolok) than a false friend (Bilam) Gishmak, no? Some say that Lovon, Yaakov’s shver and who gets a shout out at the Pesach seder was the model of this backstabbing friend. And as we said above, some say that Bilam was taka Lovon: givaldig! And the bottom line? Who named the Parshiois? Seemingly not the RBSO and not even Moishe. Some say it was the Anshay K’neses Ha’gidoila (the people who led the great assembly). Ver veyst and efsher one day we’ll find out how a few Goyim merited that Parshas be named after them. Nu, let’s learn some parsha.
Ober, before we go veyter, let’s dig tiffer (deeper); let’s explore the master plan of the RBSO for only He could have planned this. Earlier we mentioned Rus the Moabite. Ober what’s Rus doing here in our parsha? And the answer is that absent Bolok, there would be no Rus. In other words: Bolok, no matter how bad his behavior, was needed. His life needed to be spared in order for us to get to Rus who was the great, great and efsher even greater grandmother of none of the than Dovid (King David). OMG! Who else but the RBSO could have the foresight so many generations ahead to know that the master plan called for a Rus to appear and to then give us Dovid?
Ober, what zichus (merit) did this Bolok have? Why couldn’t the RBSO give us Rus from any other fellow? Vus epes Bolok (why was he selected)? Nu, believe it or not, this question was mistama on the minds of our sages of the heylige Gemora who discuss Bolok not in one Tractate but in at least two. And they tell us azoy:
Says the heylige Gemora (Nozir: 23b), azoy: Rebbe Nachman bar Yitzhok said: A transgression committed for the sake of heaven, is of greater merit than a mitzvah performed for ulterior motives. You hear this? Is it ok to sin as long as one has or had good intentions? It’s the motive that counts!? Ober Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav: a person should always engage in the study of Toirah and perform Mitzvis even for ulterior motives. How do these two teachings jive? Says the Gemora: because by learning Torah and performing mitzvis for ulterior motives, he, the person, will eventually come to learn Torah and perform mitzvis for their own sake. Ober what has all this to do with our man Bolok?
Says the Gemora, the proof of this concept is Bolok who, while trying to perform a terrible sin against the Yiddin, began by offering korbonis (sacrifices) to the RBSO. Specifically, because he brought 42 different sacrifices to the RBSO, he was rewarded. How? He lived and was the ancestor to Rus. OMG! Says the Gemora that Rus was the daughter of the son of Egloin. In other words: Rus was the granddaughter of Bolok. Was Egloin also Bolok? What the hec is goin on here? Ober didn’t approximately 400 years go by before kind David was introduced? Not to worry. Says Toisfis (another commentator): she wasn’t really a granddaughter to Bolok but she was a great – a few times great- granddaughter to Bolok. Hence, Bolok’s reward for plotting to sin but be performing a mitzvah with ulterior motives was having Rus in his family tree.
As an aside, as proof that one is rewarded for performing a sin but with good intentions, the heylige Gemora tells us that Tamar engaged in immoral relations (roadside sex) with Yehudah (who had been her father-in-law prior), but since her intentions were pure (she believed that it was divinely decreed that she sire a son to Yehudah), she was rewarded. How? One of the children born from that union (she had twins) was Peretz. This Peretz was an ancestor to Dovid Hamelech (King David). Keep that in mind as we close in on Bolok.
Says the heylige Gemora: Rus was the daughter of the son of Egloin, the King of Moiov. Who was Egloin? Seemingly, he was the grandson of Bolok. In other words: Rus descended from Bolok. Says the Eyn Yaakov: Rus was the daughter of the son of Egloin who himself was the son of the son of Bolok. Got all that? Givaldig! Bottom line: Bolok lived, had sons (at least one), had grandchildren and great grandchildren. One of those was Rus. Bottom line: this Jew hater merited to have our much beloved Rus as a relative. Let’s not forget to shout out Loit’s two daughters, who, on two consecutive nights inebriated their father, had their way with him, if you chap, got pregnant (each of them) and then had baby boys. One of those was named Moiov, he the first ever Moabite. Bottom line: There too, the heylige Gemora tells us that the RBSO rewarded them. Is chapping from one’s own father while in a drunken stupor, and even when fully sober, not a forbidden and disgusting immoral sexual act? It is! Unless. Unless what? Unless, says the Gemora, one committed the sin with good intentions. Our sages tell us that the girls thought they were performing a mitzvah (of repopulating the world) and as a result, the RBSO, looked the other way when they came upon their father, and shoin. The bottom line: do not engage in such behavior and do not offer the “I was chapping a mitzvah” as an excuse if you do get chapped chapping.
And the takeaway from the entire Bolok and his reward for bad behavior incident is this: The RBSO, we are taught (by our sages) does rewards goyim -good ones, and bad ones, who deserve some reward. Where? In this world. Good Jews get rewarded in the world to come. Care to wait?
Parshas Bolok stars two anti-semitten kings who disliked each other but united for a common cause. They both hated the Yiddin; what else is new. In the co-starring role, we find an ass (a she donkey) that gets a speaking role, mamish. Moreover, a favorite part of the davening, a part that we say each and every morning, a part that the Siddur’s codifiers saw fit to include, is found in this week’s parsha and was originally spoken by yet another sheygitz – one of the central goyim in the parsha. Moreover this goy seems to have direct contact with the RBSO, he’s a shtikel Novee (prophet). What the hec is going on here? Did the heylige Toirah chas v’sholom (say it’s not so) run out of Yiddin to talk about? What’s p’shat here? Why do these two clowns, Bolok and Bilam, taka get so much play and mamish occupy 7/8ths of the gantze parsha when other choshova Yiddin barely got a shout-out?
Not much going on in the Parsha in terms of mitzvois, it has none of the 613, but it certainly does contain two amazing stories, and you won’t want to miss them. The first, a plot to defeat the Yiddin with the help of some magical powers, and the other which takes up all of 9 pisukim, is about Yiddin, hot shiksa Moabite and or Midianite hookers, sex, defecation and idol worship. It is? And with that tidbit, zicher you’re paying attention; let’s learn some parsha.
Lest you think that the Yiddin had a good week and flew below the radar of the Ananay Hakovoid (the clouds of glory), nu- also in this week’s parsha, but all the way in the end, the Yiddin find yet another way to anger the RBSO, and guess what? It’s not a happy ending and another 24,000 will perish before we get to maftir. Be sure to be in attendance for this part: you’ll feel mamish left out if you miss it. It’s but one week later and the restless incorrigible Yiddin have found yet another way of getting into trouble, resourceful bunch that they were. This time they’re not hungry or thirsty and they’ve seemingly forgotten about all the requests they made for exotic fruits, including pomegranates, just last week. This week, the object of their desires is the hot shiksa Midianite and or Moabite women, depending on which pshat you like. Avada givist (of course), these encounters did have happy endings followed immediately by a less than pleasant one, if you chap. Mistama (likely), now you chazerrim want to hear more. Of course you do ober ershtens (but first) let’s check in on Bilam and Bolok and their nefarious plot to hurt the Yiddin.
Bikitzur (in short) here’s what went down: Bolok ben Tzipor, the king of Moiav and a warrior himself, hears that the Yiddin defeated Emoir while on their way to the Promised Land. He becomes frightened and thinks he’s next to go down. He consults with the good people of Midyan (where Moishe spent some time – first as a fugitive from Egyptian justice, then after finding a wife, as the shepherd to his shver’s sheep- nu, also a profession) about trying to come up with a plan to defeat the Yiddin They tell him he’s got one shot only: he has to find this Bilam character since he, Bilam, has special powers to curse, and if he curses the Yiddin, all will be good for Bolok and his nation of Moiav. Chap all this? Most of the parsha is about the plan, the plot, its execution, its failure and some suddenly speech empowered ass that belonged to Bilam. A talking ass, you wonder?
If you’re having a difficult time believing that an ass can suddenly talk, you’re not alone. Says the RambaM and who knew more, azoy: this entire incident was but a prophetic vision and none of it happened. It didn’t? Ver veyst? Grada this is a big statement as it challenges words of the heylige Toirah mamish. Was this epes a special donkey or can any ass talk? Veyter! Ober says the RambaN, also a medieval commentator, azoy: the donkey did in fact talk to Bilam to remind him and future readers, that the RBSO can control even a human’s most basic functions. And says the Seforno, he of the Renaissance-era, azoy: the story is really about paying attention to signs. The behavior of the donkey should have been a sign to Bilam that what he was about to do was not good in the eyes of the RBSO.
Says the Medrish azoy: Bilam’s donkey was the same animal that our Zeyda Avrohom Oveenu rode to Har Hamoriyo (Mount Moriah) to sacrifice his favorite and only son Yitzchok, and it’s the same donkey that will eventually carry the Moshiach. Says Pirkei Ovois: the talking donkey was made on day 6 of creation, before Shabbis. This is one of the miracles of Nature that was provided for in advance as part of the cosmic plan. Nu, isn’t it obvious to you how the RBSO takes care of every detail, mamish? Obviously this is no ordinary donkey. Ober who is this Bilam character? According to a famous Medrish, Bilam was one of the advisors who told Paroy the minuvil to toss Yiddishe boy babies into the water. In any event, not the nicest guy and zicher no friend of the Yiddin.
Veyter: Bolok hires Bilam to curse the Yiddin, and in scenes reminiscent of ‘the gang that couldn’t shoot straight,’ Bilam is unable, for various reasons, to execute. Along the way the RBSO, first through his Malach and then seemingly Himself, has an encounter or two with Bilam and warns him against cursing the RBSO’s favorite people- us the Yiddin. Mistama and avada you’re wondering why the RBSO is epes having meetings with this fellow- are you? Hey: aren’t we the chosen people? Of course Rashi, who else, covers this by explaining that the RBSO didn’t want the other nations of the world to complain that we Yiddin had Moishe and therefore we’re so well behaved and they had no one to provide leadership and guidance. Seemingly the RBSO didn’t want to hear them whining jealously about the fact that they didn’t have good representation. Accordingly He selected Bilam the goy sorcerer, despite his personal character flaws which you will zicher enjoy reading about in the next paragraph, infused him with some ruach hakoidesh (holy spirit) which, according to many, came to him only during the night and had meetings and conversations with him. I understand that many of you also have spirits at night; unfortunately they’re less than holy. Chap all that? Ok- veyter.
Want to hear more about Bilam? Who was he and what’s the story with him and his talking donkey? Yes you do, and since you’ve all advanced in your learning this past year, we’ll learn some Gemora. Here goes. And before we begin, let me tell you azoy: when you get done with this shtikel Gemora, you’re mamish going to feel bad that you cut all those classes or didn’t pay attention when you did show up because this stuff cannot be made up. Says the heylige Gemora in Sanhedrin 105 azoy:
The Gemora lists several degrading qualities about Bilam which are hinted to in his name. The verse calls him “Ben Be’or” — “the son of Be’or” (Bamidbar 22:5). The word “Be’or” means donkey. The Gemora explains that he had intimate relations with his donkey. Yes, you read that correctly. Bilam was riding the donkey in more ways than one, if you chap. Does the Gemora mean that Bilam’s father, Be’or, had relations with his donkey, or that Bilam, the son of Be’or, committed this act? Taka an excellent question and it has several possible answers, let’s learn.
(a) The Yad Ramah says that the Gemora refers to Bilam, whom the verse alludes to as a “Ben Be’or” — “a son who had relations with a donkey.” The Gemora later (105b) indeed says that Bilam’s donkey implied as much in its conversation with Bilam. The donkey said to Bilam, “I am your donkey which you rode on me… have I ever put you in danger (ha’Hasken Hiskanti) to do this to you?” (Bamidbar 22:30). The Gemora explains that word “Hasken” is used in reference to Avishag, who was brought in to keep Dovid ha’Melech warm in his old age and mistama she rode him as well, if you chap. The Gemora understands that Bilam’s donkey was referring to its similar companionship and relationship with Bilam. In other words: it wasn’t a ride in the park, if you chap.
(b) Alternatively, the Yad Ramah explains that the Gemora refers to the reason why Bilam’s father was called Be’or. It was Be’or, Bilam’s father, who had relations with a donkey.
(c) The MELO HA’RO’IM quotes the SHELAH who explains that Be’or and Bilam were actually the same person. The Shelah is so certain of this explanation that he asserts that there must be a printer’s mistake in the text of Rashi which states that Be’or was the father of Bilam.
Want another view? Let’s try this one. Bilam is presented to us as a total contradiction. He is described as “Knowing the mind of G-d”, and we are told in the Midrash (Bamidbar Rabba 14; 20) that his level of prophecy surpassed even that of Moishe Rabaynu. Yet his personal habits and character traits were the most despicable that we can imagine. In fact, says the heylige Gemora (Avoida Zara 4b,) we can derive from the donkey’s conversation with Bilam that he used to have sexual relations with it. How could someone simultaneously be on such a high level, and still remain such a chazir of a human being? Nu, mistama many of you can answer this question yourselves, if you chap. And as to why the RBSO chose Bilam and gave him Ruach Hakoidesh after he was intimate with his donkey, nu, Rashi above covers this subject. And if you’re not happy with that pshat, too bad. Who says we have to understand everything the RBSO does? And as the Oisvorfer has said over and over: the RBSO knows what He’s doing and it’s not for us to question.
Other sages suggest that since Bilam had relations with his donkey, he is no longer considered to be a great prophet, no kidding! Some say that Bilam began to behave in this way (deviant behavior) only once he decided to curse the Yiddin. Others maintain that he was always a minuvil and had always engaged in such behavior, but he was nevertheless given prophecy as a gift from the RBSO; seemingly there is hope for some of you. Ober once he became an adversary of the Yiddin, he lost that gift (but kept the donkey).
Nu, whichever pshat talks to you, it does appear that either Bilam and or his dad, were sexual deviants. Veyter: After a series of blunders and failed attempts to curse the Yiddin and after the RBSO warns him not to, this is what comes out of Bilam’s mouth as he gazes into the tents of the Yiddin. “How goodly are your tents, Yaakov, your dwelling places, Yisroel. They stretch forth like streams, like gardens by the river, like the aloe trees that Hashem has planted; like cedar trees by the water. Water flows out from his buckets, and his seed will have an abundant flow; his king will be greater than Agag and his monarchy shall be uplifted. G-d Who has brought him out of Egypt, has shown His great strength to him; He will consume His enemy nations, crushing their bones and dip His arrows (in their blood). He crouches and lies like a lion, and, being a lion, who would dare rouse him? Those who bless you are blessed, and those who curse you are cursed.” Did you hear that blessing? These are the words of Mah Tovu Oyholecha Yaakov, translated here for all of you giferliche oisvorfs who haven’t a clue what you’ve been saying all your lives.
Here was Bilam gazing into the tents of the Yiddin and this is what he saw? Or, was he suffering from sun stroke in the hot desert? Efsher we can posit that he was delirious after being mezaneh with his donkey because not one possik later, the heylige Toirah tells us the following story; another side of the events that were unfolding in tents not too far away. Halt kup: this is better than materials you see on the tumidikkee (treif) internet, if you chap.
Following Bilam’s colossal failure to curse the Yiddin, he goes home and the Yiddin settle in Shittim where all hell seems to break loose. Nu what could be so giferlich, what could they have already done? What’s so special about Shittim? Rashi, quoting Chazal tells us that just before Bilam left for home, he came up with one last plot, an oldie, but time tested and kimat (nearly) always guaranteed to work. It involved Chasiddim…er I mean Yiddin and hookers- a deadly combination! There are many versions of the story, let’s try one or two so you can chap the scene. Oh, and before you start calling the Oisvorfer all sorts of names, please be mindful that the heylige Oisvorfer didn’t make this stuff up, he’s merely repeating the heylige Gemora and, myriad medroshim, but first let’s quote the heylige Toirah (25:1) which says azoy:
“And Israel dwelled in Shittim. And the people began to go astray after the daughters of Moiav.”
What does dwelling in Shittim have to do with the Yiddin going astray and epes getting involved with Moabite shiksas? Says the Medrish Rabbah: Some fountains rear strong men and some weaklings, some handsome men and some ugly men, some chaste men and some men who are steeped in lewdness. The fountain of Shittim promoted harlotry and it was the one that watered Sedoim. Because this fountain was cursed, the RBSO will, in the future, cause it to dry up and then renew it, as it is written (Joel 4:18): “And a fountain shall come forth of the house of G-d, and shall water the valley of Shittim.” Not since the days of Avrohom had any Jew broken loose in whoredom; but as soon as they came to Shittim and drank its waters they succumbed to whoredom. You hear this medrish? Shoin: long before vitamin and mineral infused water, there was Shittim Water, why not? Why else would the heylige Yiddin get involved is such dastardly acts of minuvilikite? Blame the water! Say it’s not so, loi olaynu pu pu pu! So what taka happened? The suspense is killing you, isn’t it?
Says the heylige Gemora (Sanhedrin 106a) azoy, and listen carefully. Bilam told his newfound friend Bolok to ensnare the children of Israel with Moabite girls. Bilam explained that the RBSO hates promiscuity and that the Yiddin are very partial to linen. Come, and I will advise you what to do. Erect for them tents enclosed by hangings, and place in them zoinas (harlots), old women outside, young women within, to sell them linen garments.
So he (Bolok) erected curtained tents from the snowy mountain (Hermon) as far as Beth ha-Yeshimoth, and placed zoinas (harlots) in them — old women on the outside, younger ones inside. And when an unsuspecting Yidil ate, drank, and was merry, and took a shpatzir (walk) in the market place, the old women would say to him, “Do you desire linen garments?” The old women offered it at its current value, but the young ones, for less. This happened two or three times. After that she would say to him, “You are now like one of the family; sit down and choose for yourself.” Gourds of Ammonite wine lay near her, and at that time Ammonite and heathen wine had not yet been forbidden. Said she to him: “Would you like to drink a glass of wine?” Having drunk, his passion was inflamed, if you chap, and he exclaimed to her, “Yield to me!” Thereupon she brought forth an idol from her bosom and said to him, “Worship this.”
Nu, when a man is in a compromising position, surrounded by beautiful linens, and at the last second the service provider demands that he worship an idol, is he not going to succumb? And how was this worship manifested? Alarmingly it went something like this. The girls had an idol called Ba’al Peor and the worship procedure required the worshipper to defecate on the idol. Mistama, this makes little sense but this is what the heylige Gemora tells us and who are we to argue? Why the plot included linens, ver veyst, wouldn’t the Yiddin also have succumbed to the hot shiksa Moabites with just food and wine? Or wine alone? Or just for cash? And since when does taking a good dump constitute idol worship?
Sanhedrin 64a says that there was once a gentile woman who was very ill, and who took the following vow: If this woman recovers from her illness, she will go and worship every idol in the world. She recovered, and proceeded to worship every idol in the world. When she came to Peor, she asked its priests: How is this one worshipped? Said they to her: One eats greens and drinks beer, and then one defecates before the idol. Said she: I’d rather that this woman return to her illness than worship an idol in such a manner.
Anyway, the Oisvorfer wasn’t there, neither were you but let’s go with the Gemora story of sex and idol worship: seemingly a number of Yiddin did both! As expected, the RBSO is not very happy and decides to dump the giferliche minuvullim who took part in the festivities; in fact before the plague is over, 24,000 exactly will be laid again, this time to rest. And how does the plague taka end? With this even more amazing story. Ober, this story will take us into next week’s parsha, so we’ll leave out the details and only tell you what happened before Pinchas the zealot stopped the plague.
Introducing Zimri: who’s he? Zimri was the Nosi (prince) of Shayvet Shimon and the most prominent individual to take part in the midbar orgy. What did he do? Zimri brought a Midianite shiksa named Kosbi into the Camp of the Yiddin, had sex with her before The Assembly (read: in public view).
So what really went down here besides the Moabite girls on the unsuspecting Yiddin? Seemingly, the Moabite and Midianite kings had learned they could defeat the Yiddin by turning them away from the RBSO, by tempting them to commit sexual sins, the oldest trick in the book. In fact so deep was the hatred for the Yiddin from the Midianites, that one of their chiefs recruited his own daughter into prostitution to lure the Yiddin into sin. Says the Medrish Rabbah (2 1: 3) that this one chief (Tzur) aimed to seduce the Israelite leaders by using his daughter, Kosbi, to entice Zimri, a prince of the tribe of Shimoin. Rashi tells us that Kosbi and other young Midianite women seduced thousands of Yiddishe men into the worship of their god Ba’al Peor by holding out the goodies, which avada the aroused participants wanted: sex sells.
With all that going on, this Zimri fellow brought a Midianite woman (Kosbi) to Moishe and asked if she was forbidden to him (for sexual relations). And he’s klerring (thinking) azoy: If Moishe tells me she’s forbidden, then I’ll remind him (Moishe) that his own wife Tzipoira is from the same place. Ober Moishe drew a blank; let’s not forget that he’s a shtikel older- maybe 120, and at that age one can easily forget such halochois and of course draw a blank, if you chap. As an aside, the Medrish tells us that Tzipoira converted making her mutir (permissible) to Moishe. Another medrish says that avada Moishe married Tzipoira before Matan Toirah and yet another says (not really) that because she was black and beautiful she didn’t have to be Jewish. Veyter: The halacho (law) of what to do in the case of Zimri and the Midianite woman was concealed from Moishe, so the Yiddin resorted to crying (women do this trick ad ahyoim hazeh). Zimri’s rationale: Efsher he wanted to show the Yiddin that there was no reason to go hunting for action at the Midianite/Moabite Bazaar where the co-habitation was an enticement, but came with avoidah zora to the Ba’al Pe’or. Maybe his intentions were pure? Of course this topic is hotly debated, but we must move along. The bottom line: Bilam’s scheme to seduce Jewish men to avoidah zora by way of immorality and cohabitation with these women resulted in a death sentence for 24,000. Is anyone still alive to enter the land? Nu, can you blame the poor Yiddin? After waiting nearly 40 years to enter the Promised Land, seemingly they were easily distracted and were prepared to enter other territories, if you chap.
The Maharsha, through some calculation, proves that Zimri was at least 250 years old when he publicly ridiculed Moishe Rabaynu and showed up with this younger Midianite woman. Pretty impressive! One also has to wonder how Zimri was able to perform at 250. What happened next? When Pinchas, the son of Elazar, saw the public display of Zimri and Kosbi, he was mamish disgusted (wouldn’t you be if you chapped a 250 year old with a teen?) and told Moishe that he remembers the halocho (law). A person having sex with a shiksa is to be executed during the act (only if she’s ugly) but not before or after. Without seeking counsel, he took his spear and stabbed them in their respective male and female organs, a direct hit. In other words: while Zimri was mounted on Kosbi. Pinchas, who seemingly had but one spear, took aim, piercing them both in the genitalia; X marks the spot! Immediately thereafter, and after 24,000 died, the plague stopped. Only a real religion would share such information about its leaders: the Toirah is real!
A gittin Shabbis-
The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv